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East Lycoming School District has amazing past, promising future

From historical and educational firsts in Lycoming County to its promising future, the East Lycoming School District lays claim to many firsts.

Retiring District Superintendent Michael Pawlik couldn’t say enough about the district.

“The East Lycoming School District is an exceptional place,” Mr. Pawlik said, adding how “The District is blessed with a long history of incredible academic, artistic and athletic achievement. Without the limitless effort of our faculty, staff, school board, and the support of our community, none of our successes would be possible. Students genuinely find a home in the East Lycoming School District where they can excel and move forward, preparing for a future of possibilities.”

Early history

Travel back in time to an era just after the Civil War, when the city of Williamsport was a burgeoning industrial powerhouse, and considered the “Lumber Capital of the World.”

In the rural eastern part of the county, the first public school in this area was known as the Woodley School in Picture Rocks.

In 1877, the Woodley School was a building consisting of two rooms and later enlarged to four rooms. In 1896, the first high school class graduated from there.

In 1921, the Picture Rocks School (as it became known) became the first borough school in the state to adopt a program of vocational education.

In 1925, the vocational school at Picture Rocks had 15 graduating students.

“Each diploma had a picture of the new school building on it,” according to district archives.

In 1926, the cornerstone was laid for the present building. The building contained four grade classrooms, four vocational rooms, an auditorium which held 600 people and a well-equipped gymnasium.

Student enrollment was 150 that year with seven teachers on staff.

In 1946, the Picture Rocks School and the high school students transferred to Hughesville, where a high school had been built in 1927 on Main Street.

The Picture Rocks building was used as a grade school. The school is named in memory of George A. Ferrell who was the Assistant County Superintendent of Schools from 1918 to 1935. Ferrell became a part of the East Lycoming School District in 1946.

Meanwhile, Hughesville High’s Class of 1928 was the first class to graduate from its new building.

By 1952, the district comprised the boroughs of Hughesville and Picture Rocks, and the townships of Shrewsberry, Mill Creek, Moreland, Wolf, Franklin and Jordan.

In 1954, groundbreaking took place for a new Hughesville Junior-Senior High School building on West Cemetery Street.

In January 1955, students occupied the new building and it was not completely finished by homerooms and students walked from the old building to the new one a few blocks away. The Class of 1956 was the first to graduate from the new building.

In 1970-71 the Ashkar Elementary School was built. It honored the memory of Joseph C. Ashkar, a long-time teacher in the district.

Ashkar was built to meet the needs of the growing population of elementary students in the district.

Ashkar graduated from the Hughesville High School in 1929, after which he studied and worked in New York City.

He then returned to study at the Mansfield Teacher’s College and graduated from there in 1934.

Ashkar began teaching in the district in 1935 and enjoyed a long and dedicated teaching career for 31 years.

In addition to teaching regular classes, Ashkar formed and coached the first wrestling team at Hughesville.

Originally, Ashkar Elementary housed students in grades kindergarten through four, but has grown to include students in fifth and six grades.

The school is a reminder of his love for the school children and community.

Innovative and energy saving design

The district had installed a solar field in 2011. The panels are visible from most places in the borough, especially along Route 405 the corridor between Hughesville and Muncy.

The solar field provides over 50% of the total power used in the Junior Senior High School.

That same year the district had a biomass furnace. Long before energy conservation was in the headlines, the district brought this furnace, which uses inexpensive wood chips, from a local supplier, Lewis Lumber, to burn and is considered to be “carbon neutral” to the environment.

Academic achievement and secondary educational and career preparation

Renn Elementary School was recognized as a federal Blue Ribbon School in 2004. The Blue Ribbon is a mark of excellence given by the U.S. Department of Education. Ferrell Elementary was recognized as a federal Blue Ribbon School in 2008 and 2018.

Hughesville High School was recognized as an Advanced Placement (AP) Honor Roll school in 2014 and 2017.

In 2019 the Ashkar Elementary School was listed as a Title I School of Distinction.

The Hughesville High School offers 80 college “dual enrollment” credits for our students to choose from.

“We have had students graduate, with a sufficient number of college credits completed to start college as a sophomore,” Mr. Pawlik said.

High school students may choose to attend Lycoming Career and Technology Center for training in the construction and mechanical trades, child care, culinary art, criminal justice and other careers. The BLaST Intermediate Unit IU17 provides the District with a wide variety of services like specialized education for disabled students and hearing, speech and visual disability services and professional development for staff and faculty.

Benefiting the community

The East Lycoming Education Foundation was created in 2012.

In 2001 the Hughesville High School Soccer Stadium was completed. It was named the “Ray Perritt Stadium, “after Raymond H. Perritt, who organized the community to build the stadium and raised the funds to do so.

Considered to be located in a growth corridor of the county, the East Lycoming School District has had the lowest tax milage rate in the County for over 25 years.

East Lycoming School District has a promising future for its 1,600-plus students, and opportunity for its faculty, administration and high value for its many community members.

As he retires from education in June, replaced by new Superintendent Dr. Mark Stamm, formerly superintendent of the South Williamsport Area School District, Mr. Pawlik says he is enormously grateful for his time and experiences at the East Lycoming School District, one which he will always consider to be a legacy and will forever call his home.

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